Betty Maureen Ponder
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Betty Maureen Ponder at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, New Brunswick on March 10, 2021.
Betty was born on 24 July 1931 in Brownsville, Ontario, to physician Dr. Wilfred Edison Park and Lila Jane Marshman Park. Lila died in 1934 when Betty was three. She and her brother Douglas, along with her half-brothers Robert, James, and Warren were raised by her father and his second wife, Catherine Leonard Park. In 1951 Betty married Murray Morris Neilson, an entomologist. In 1957 they settled in Fredericton where Murray, a federal government scientist, managed the Maritime Forest Research Centre on the UNB campus. The couple were among the founders of Crabbe Mountain ski hill where they both taught skiing and of the Mactaquac Sailing Association. During their twenty-one years of marriage they had three children: Linda, Jennifer and Neil Gregory.
Tragically, their son Gregory drowned in 1973 when he was 13 years old while on a fishing trip with his father at Magaguadavic Lake shortly after Betty and Murray’s separation.
Betty pursued a series of careers at the University of New Brunswick. As an accredited ski instructor, she taught ski courses for several years in the Physical Education Department (now known as the Kinesiology Department). She also worked in various positions as a librarian, a computer technician and ultimately a biology technician and lab manager for Professor Emeritus William Seabrook. In that capacity she coauthored articles in scientific journals and presented her work at conferences in many parts of the world.
In 1976 she married Charles (Charlie) A. Ponder, a noted mechanical engineer, bridge designer, and principal of Fredericton’s ADI engineering firm, thereby acquiring three Ponder step children: Daphne (Michael Camp), Anne, and Charles, who became important to her life. She and Charlie took yearly ski vacations and travelled abroad. One of the most memorable of their adventures together was a two month voyage in their two-seater airplane from New Brunswick to the southern US and back. Theirs was a happy marriage. Unfortunately Charlie died in 2012.
Although Betty experienced multiple medical problems, including progressive lung problems associated with Primary Sjøgren’s, she resisted those complications with energy and conviction. In 2006 she wrote an autobiography and in 2017 published The Heart’s Underside, a collection of poems with artwork by Jill Langford. Betty’s greatest pleasures in later life were found in her bridge and writing circles.
In 2015 Betty moved to Ste Anne’s Court Retirement Home where she acquired a new circle of friends. Her family shall be forever grateful to Ste Anne’s dedicated manager Matthew "Prem" Premkumar and for the excellent care and attention she received there. Her family would also like to thank Dr. Katherine Hadley as well as her palliative doctors and nurses for the excellent and compassionate medical care she received at the Dr. Everett Chalmers hospital. Last but not least we thank Nancy Bowlen, her hospital roommate, whose kindness and compassion gave Betty great comfort during her final weeks.
Betty is survived by her daughters, Linda Neilson (Tony Rhinelander) and Jennifer Scott (Brian Scott), and by three step-children Daphne (Michael Camp), Anne Ponder and Charles Ponder; four grandchildren: Jason Rhinelander, Lila Rhinelander (Kyle Lennie), Michael Scott (Elizabeth Galbraith), and Leta Scott (Jason Marchand); four step-grandchildren: Teddy Camp, Tommy Camp, Laurens Rhinelander, and Sarah Craik; and by numerous great-grandchildren.
Although no memorial service can be held at this time, a celebration of Betty’s life will be arranged at a later date when it is possible for those who were touched by her life to participate in person. Donations to her memory may be made to Hospice House, 621 Churchill Row, Fredericton or to Elder Dog.